14. Am I eligible to have my record sealed or expunged?
If you want to seal or expunge your Florida criminal history record using the
regular process, you can get started by reviewing 5 key
factors about eligibility: "Fast 5". If you clear those
5 factors, you will be on your way. You can then take a look at the
for more information; or you can ask the Law Firm to help you with a
FREE review of your eligibility.
If the record you want to seal or expunge is a juvenile record,
and if you participated in a prearrest or postarrest diversion
program related to that record, you might want to review the FAQ:
"What is juvenile diversion expungement?", to see if you qualify for that
process first. If you do, using that process would not automatically
prohibit you from using the regular
process to seal or expunge a different Florida record, if you should
ever need to - if you are otherwise eligible. See FAQ: "Is it true that I can only use the seal or expungement process once?" for more information.
15. Are there some quick factors I can review about my eligibility,
to get started?
Yes. Take a look at the "Fast 5", to get 5 of the
easier eligibility issues out of the way. If you clear that hurdle,
you're on your way. Then, you can take a look at the
for more information; or you
request a FREE Eligibility Review
from the Firm.
16. What will make me automatically ineligible to seal or
expunge my record?
There are numerous factors which can make you ineligible to seal or
expunge your Florida criminal history record. Below are some of the
factors which are a bit easier to review.
The below 5 questions are used by the Firm as the
to help people get started reviewing their eligibility to seal or expunge their
Florida criminal history records. If you answer, "Yes", to any of these
questions, unfortunately, you are automatically ineligible to seal or expunge
your Florida record at this time, using the regular statutory process.
- Have you ever had a criminal history record sealed or expunged?
- Are you currently serving probation or under other court supervision
for any of the charges related to the record you want to seal or expunge?
- Have you ever been adjudicated guilty (as an adult) of any crime,
including any violation of a criminal traffic law or a criminal city/county ordinance?
- Were you adjudicated delinquent (as a minor) for any of the charges
related to the record you want to seal or expunge?
- Were you ever adjudicated delinquent (as a minor)
for Any Felony or
for Any of the Below-Listed Misdemeanors
(as specified in s. 943.051(3)(b), Florida Statutes)?
Assault (s. 784.011);
Assault or battery on a law enforcement officer, a firefighter, or other
specified officers (s. 784.07(2)(a) - (b));
Battery (s. 784.03);
Carrying a concealed weapon (s. 790.01(1));
Cruelty to animals (s. 828.12(1));
Exposure of sexual organs (s. 800.03);
Negligent treatment of children (former s. 827.05);
Open carrying of a weapon (s. 790.053);
Petit theft (s. 812.014(3));
Unlawful possession of a firearm (s. 790.22(5));
Allow minor to obtain firearm who takes it to school property (s. 790.115(2)(c)2.); or
Unlawful use of destructive devices or bombs (s.790.1615(1)).
If you are not sure if you have ever been adjudicated guilty of any
criminal offense, read more about "adjudicated guilty"
and about reviewing your overall criminal history to determine your eligibility.
If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions, unfortunately,
with the possible exceptions noted below, you are not eligible under
Florida law to have your record sealed or expunged at this time. Depending on
the factor and your situation, you may become eligible in the future.
If you answered "Yes" to question 1, 3, or 5, you cannot
seal or expunge any nonjudicial
Florida criminal history record, using the regular seal and expungement process,
except as noted below.
If you are currently serving probation for any of the charges related
to the record you want to seal, the law requires that you wait
to apply to seal your record until you have completed probation
or other court supervision for all charges related to record you want sealed.
You also have to meet all the other eligibility requirements.
(You might want to find out if you can terminate your probation early.)
If you had a conviction (adjudication of guilt) or an adjudication of delinquency
overturned by a court on appeal, and the final disposition of your case was
something other than "guilty" or "delinquent", you should review all the other factors
related to eligibility and consult with an attorney. Depending your
overall situation, you may find that you are eligible to seal or expunge
your record; but, you will need to consider other factors which might impact the
final review process in court.
The first question above may not apply to you,
if you are trying to expunge a Florida record that you have had sealed for
10 years, based on statutory requirements. If this is your situation, you should review
the additional eligibility factors for expungement, because you must be eligible to expunge
the record under current legal requirements.
The first question may also not apply to you,
if you had a criminal history record sealed or expunged under another provision of law,
such as administrative expungement or
juvenile diversion expungement.
If you are not eligible to seal or expunge your record at this time,
you may wish to discuss your situation with an attorney, to see if there is
anything that can be done to change your situation and ineligibility.
17. If I am on probation, am I automatically not eligible to seal or
expunge my record?
Yes, you are temporarily, automatically ineligible to use the
regular seal or expungement process
while you are on probation if you are trying to seal or expunge the record which
is related to your probation. Being on probation, by itself, does not make you permanently
ineligible to seal your related record. When you have successfully completed
your probation, you can review your overall eligibility to seal your record. In the meantime,
you might want to check with your defense attorney to see if you qualify for early termination
of your probation.
If you are trying to seal or expunge a Florida record other than the
one related to your probation, the fact that you are on probation would not
automatically make you ineligible to use the regular seal or expungement process
for your other record, under the statutory requirements. However, you need to
confirm that you are eligible under all the other criteria for the seal or expunge
process. You should also consult with an attorney to review your overall situation
and to review several important legal issues such as a) the possible impact on the
seal or expungement process for your other record, if you have any problems during the
remainder of your probation; and b) the factors a court
may consider in deciding whether deny a petition to seal or expunge a record
when a person is otherwise eligible under the applicable Florida statutes.
18. If I have recently been arrested but my case is still pending, can I
seal or expunge a different Florida record in the meantime?
Your pending case might impact your ability to seal or expunge a different
Florida record. First, if, before you file your petition for an order to seal
or expunge your other record, you are adjudicated guilty of any of
the charges from your recent arrest, you will not be eligible to seal
or expunge your other record (or any other nonjudicial Florida criminal history record). Florida statutory law prohibits the sealing or
expunging of any Florida record if, at any time before the date the person
files a petition for an order to seal or expunge, the person had ever been
adjudicated guilty of any crime. Second, the circumstances of your recent
criminal case may be a factor considered by the court when reviewing
your petition to seal or expunge your other record, whether your recent
case is pending or resolved with a withhold of adjudication. You should consult with an attorney
about the seal and expunge legal issues and your options.
19. Are there any criminal charges that would be OK to seal or expunge?
It might seem like there should be an easy answer to this question. However,
there are many factors which can impact the ability to have a Florida record
sealed or expunged, regardless of the criminal charge(s) in the record.
Let's start with an overall statement: Any crime not specifically prohibited
in the Florida laws governing the seal or expungement process, Sections 943.0585
or 943.059, Florida Statutes, will be "OK" to seal or expunge IF all other
eligibility criteria have been met and IF there are no factors which a court,
in its discretion, may review and use to deny your petition for an order to
seal or expunge.
You can review lists of charges which may automatically disqualify you
from sealing or expunging the record related to those charges, or any Florida record, depending
on whether you were charged as an adult or a juvenile and depending on the final disposition
of the charges.
With the above information in mind, one "easy" crime to mention might be
"petit/retail theft". If you have only been arrested once, never had any
criminal traffic charges, never received a notice to appear or summons for
criminal court, never had any other charges against you as a juvenile or adult,
and the only charge in your case was petit/retail theft for which you were not
adjudicated guilty or delinquent, it's likely you are eligible to have that
record sealed or expunged. The choice to seal or expunge would depend on the
final disposition in the petit/retail theft case.
You should review the Eligibility factors or
consult with an attorney, if you have questions or additional background
information. You can request a
FREE Eligibility Review
from the Firm.
20. What if every charge against me was dropped by the prosecutor or
dismissed by the court?
If every charge in your record was dropped by the prosecutor or dismissed
by the court before trial, you may be eligible to have your related Florida
record expunged - IF you meet all the other eligibility criteria.
Review more about eligibility with the Fast 5 and
Eligibility factors. You can also request a
FREE Eligibility Review
from the Firm.
21. If I have a pending Florida criminal case, should I be concerned now
about whether I will be eligible to seal or expunge that record later?
Yes! The final criminal charges, your plea, and the final
disposition of the charges can impact your eligibility to seal or
expunge the related record later, if you are otherwise eligible. Choosing
the right subparagraph of a particular statute during plea negotiations can
directly impact your eligibility - or ineligibility - to seal or expunge the
related record - or any other Florida record. Certain words that appears on the
booking sheet or police report created by the agency that arrested you may
also impact your ability to seal or expunge your record. For example, a
designation of "domestic violence" in your booking sheet or police report
which is incorrect and which is not addressed in your criminal case can
lead to an automatic denial by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) of your application to seal or expunge your
Make sure that you discuss your options with your defense attorney and that you
understand the impact of your decisions about your pending case on your ability
to seal or expunge that record, or any other record, in the future. You may
learn from the discussion with your attorney that you are not eligible to seal or expunge a record,
regardless of the charge or disposition in your pending case. However, you
might also learn that you have options for decisions about your pending
case that will not prohibit you from sealing or
expunging that record or a different record.
Waiting long after a final disposition has been entered in your pending
criminal case to consider your seal or expunge options may not be the best
22. Is there anything I can do if I am not eligible to seal or expunge my
If you are not eligible only because you are currently serving probation or
under other court supervision for one or more of the charges related to the record
you want to seal or expunge, you can wait until you complete your probation
or supervision and confirm your eligibility to seal your record
at that time. (You might want to check to see if you qualify to terminate your probation early.)
If you are not eligible due to a criminal "conviction" (an adjudication of
guilt) or due to a withhold of adjudication for a disqualifying crime,
you may be able to have your conviction or other judgment vacated and your
charge(s) modified. There are specific requirements and a limited time
period for these processes, though. You will need to consult with a criminal
defense attorney about your options.
If you wanted to expunge your record and found out that you are not
eligible only because the charges in your record were not dismissed, you may be eligible
to seal your record instead. Read more about
or request a FREE Eligibility Review
from the Firm.
23. What is "juvenile diversion expungement"?
Juvenile diversion expungement is a process, under
Florida Statutes, to expunge a specific type of juvenile criminal
history record. Timely application for this process is critical.
The "expungement" of records under this
process is very different than under the regular expunge process
Request an Eligibility Review for Juvenile Diversion Expungement.
Some of the key requirements for this process:
(1) The person successfully completed an authorized prearrest or
postarrest diversion program for minors which a) is limited to
first-time minor offenders who are arrested for a "nonviolent misdemeanor"
but who have not otherwise been charged with or found to have committed
any criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation; and b)
expressly authorizes or permits this type of expungement;
(2) The person submits the required state application packet for
expungement no later than 6 months after completion of the diversion
(3) Prior to filing the application, the person had never been
charged with or been found to have committed any criminal offense or
comparable ordinance violation.
The state application for the juvenile diversion expungement process
includes a section which requires certification by the relevant
state attorney that the applicant has successfully completed the
authorized type of prearrest or postarrest diversion program.
The completed application must be filed with the Florida Department of
Law Enforcement (FDLE), along with the applicant's fingerprints
and the required state application processing fee of $75.00.
If the applicant is under 18 at the time the application is signed
and notarized, the applicant's parent or legal guardian must
also sign the application. If FDLE determines that the applicant
meets the statutory requirements for expungement under this process,
the agency will expunge the person's record and provide notifications
as required by law.
The "expungement" of records under this process is different
than under the regular expunge process
mentioned above (under Section 943.0585, Florida Statutes). Florida law only requires
local criminal justice agencies in the county in which the minor was arrested
to seal records which are eligible under this process - not to
shred or destroy them, as is required under the regular expungement process
described above. A person's "expunged" record under this
process must be made available to a criminal justice agency when the
agency must determine the person's eligibility for a prearrest, postarrest,
or teen court diversion program; when the record is sought as part of a
criminal investigation; or when the person applies for a job with the agency.
Under the regular expungement process, your records must be
destroyed, except for the record maintained by FDLE.
One advantage to using the juvenile diversion expungement process
is that it will not prohibit a person from applying to seal or expunge
a different record using the regular process under Section
943.0585 or 943.059, Florida Statutes.
Another advantage to the juvenile diversion expungement process is that
there is no statutory requirement to file a petition for a court order
to have a person's nonjudicial juvenile record expunged. A court order is required
in the regular expunge process.
You should carefully consider your options before choosing from among the
available options to seal or expunge your juvenile record.
You can also read about the
automatic expungement of certain juvenile records.
Request a review of your eligibility for Juvenile Diversion Expungement.
24. What is "automatic juvenile record expungement"?
Before applying for juvenile diversion expungement, you should consider
a few things about nonjudicial juvenile arrest records in Florida. First, the
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) maintains Florida's database
of criminal history records. Based on Florida law, some juvenile arrest records
are not available from FDLE which were created during a certain period of time. Others are
not available because they are automatically expunged after a certain period of time.
Prior to October 1, 1994, FDLE did not maintain juvenile arrest records in
its database. So, juvenile arrest records for felonies before October 1, 1994,
and those for misdemeanors before July 1, 1996, are not available to the public
from FDLE's database, unless the juvenile was treated as an adult in the criminal
Under specific conditions, certain nonjudicial juvenile records in Florida
are automatically expunged by FDLE when the person reaches the age of 24 or 26.
Some juvenile records must be merged with a person's adult record. The conditions
can get a little complicated, and involve several factors including the nature of the
charges, the disposition of the case, and the date of the arrest. You can read more
about these conditions and Florida juvenile arrest records in
Section 943.0515, Florida Statutes.
The above-referenced automatic expungement of juvenile records only applies to records
maintained by FDLE. Other laws apply to juvenile records located at other agencies
or entities, including Section 985.04, Florida Statutes.
25. What is "administrative expungement"?
Administrative expungement is a process
used in Florida to expunge the nonjudicial criminal history record of the arrest
of a minor or an adult which was made contrary to law or by mistake.
The administrative expungement process requires an application be submitted
to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) by the arresting
law enforcement agency, the adult arrested, or the parent or legal
guardian of the minor who was arrested. It requires that
a) the arresting agency has determined that the arrest was made
contrary to law or by mistake; or b) a court has entered a final
order finding that the arrest was made contrary to law or by mistake.
Supporting documentation and an endorsement by the authorities are
If an application for an administrative expungement meets the legal
requirements, FDLE will notify the arresting agency, which is responsible
for expunging its records of the arrest and notifying any other agency to
which it provided the criminal history record information.
Under Florida law, an application or endorsement under this process is
not admissible as evidence in a judicial or administrative proceeding and
may not be construed as an admission of liability regarding the arrest.
The legal requirements and rules for the Florida administrative expungement
process can be found in Section 943.0582 of the
Florida Statutes and
Rule 11C-7.008 of the Florida Administrative Code.
Ask the Holmes Law Firm for help with administrative expungement.